Fly Away Simulation

Real Nav/Com use on commercial flight

Pro Member Trainee
glen4cindy Trainee

I flew 2x in the last few days with Southwest.

I was wondering if a real Nav/Com would be approved for use
during taxi, takeoff, and landing.

There is no way this kind of radio, as long as you didn't TX, would
interfere with cockpit insturments.

If anyone knows this for sure, please post an answer. The answer the
telephone agents and flight attendants would ALWAYS give is NO, and
I forgot to ask the pilot today after we landed in KSTL.


Pro Member First Officer
Paiute First Officer

I will have to vote "no" on using one during take off and landing. All electronic devices emit "spurious" signals. Even your electric light bulbs transmit a 60 Hz "signal" that can be detected with an appropriate instrument. In the case of the light bulbs the "signals" would only travel one or two feet, but other devices may radiate signals in the kilohertz or even megahertz ranges. Those signals may travel far enough to get to the flight deck and interfere with the on-board nav instruments.

After your flight gets up to cruise altitude they MAY let you turn on a real nav/com, like they let you turn on computers, etc. But then you would be "behind the power curve" as to which frequency your pilots are using at any point in time. You would have to put your nav/com in the "search mode" and hope you find the right freq before ATC tells them to change to another freq. Crying or Very sad

Pro Member Trainee
glen4cindy Trainee

Well, Thanks for the answer, but, this brings up another question.

If a Nav/Com will interfere with Flight Deck instruments, then, I
would have to assume that any use of a Nav/Com would interfere
with Flight Deck instruments, and consequently, it's use would be
prohibited on any airplane, any time.

Would this be a correct assumption?

I would have to say that No, I would not think a Nav/Com would
interfere with flight deck insturments because that is exactly where
a Nav/Com is designed to be used. I know of pilots that take their
handheld Nav/Com with them in case they have a radio failure in
flight. I am not sure how this could interfere with the instruments
when a Nav/Com is designed to operate in harmony with flight deck

I will be flying again in the AM from KSTL to KLIT, so if I get a chance
to ask the PIC I will do so and post his response here.

Thanks again!

Pro Member First Officer
Paiute First Officer

Yes, it may well be that the pilot would give you the ok on using a nav/com on board his aircraft. But it would be up to the individual pilot, and other pilots may veto the idea.

Also, I will have to bring up a security aspect to bringing a real nav/com on board a commercial flight. If you were a bin Laden terrorist you could pose as an ATC person and give false instructions to the flight crew. If they know what it is the security people on the ground may "confiscate" it the same way they take your nail file and tweezers.

Having said all that I hope that you get the official ok. Let us know how it turns out.


Thanks for the assistance.

I was unable to take the flight I mentioned due to the sudden death of my father-in-law.

However, the next flight I take I will aks the pilot.

There again, I may get different answers.

I had a pilot from United recently invited a friend that was flying with
us into the left seat of the cockpit, since it was her first flight ever.
I am talking about the PIC inviting a grown woman into the left seat
of an Airbus A320!

I took a photo of this, but, my camera came up missing after the cruise
we took it on, and ALL of my photos from the cruise were on the
SmartMedia card, and I forgot to bring the cable so I was NOT able to transfer ANY of the files to my PC.

Thanks again! This place is GREAT!

Pro Member First Officer
leadfoot First Officer

I highly doubt that that an airline captain would let you turn on a nav/com radio even at cruise altitude. Nav/coms as you know are tuned to the same frequencies as the pilots radios. Even at cruise altitudes the captain has to communicate regularly with the different ATC coverage areas while enroute. An active nav radio in the passenger section could prove to be a lethal interference. Say you accidentaly pushed the talk button, you could possibly block out the the channel the pilot is on, and he would not hear if he had a separation issue to deal with, possibly causing a midair you-know-what--- if you get my drift. Besides, I think you would play hell getting that radio past security anyway. A hand held GPS would pose no danger I don't think, but again, there's that security issue to deal with.

Pro Member Trainee
leadZERO Trainee

"An active nav radio in the passenger section could prove to be a lethal interference."

There have been studies on this and other use of electronics in flight. From my understanding as long as you were receiving only would pose no threat to the airplane. Yes, all electronic devices emit signals. However, these signals are extremely low powered in nature, especially on handheld devices operating off battery power. They could interfere if they were used to transmit, which is when they will emit a signal that will be more than a fraction of a watt. A magazine author once asked why cell phones were not allowed to be used on commercial flights. The answer had nothing to do with interference, it turned out that because you would be flying so fast you would be bridging between cell towers in such a way that it would think you had a disconnected call and would not charge you for the call.

However, I don't think any pilot would allow you to use something like that. I think getting it past security would be a non-issue, they would question it, but all you would have to do is turn it on and operate it to show it wasn't a bomb. I do think however that the pilot would just say no, it's easier for him to say no to any requests than chance an infraction with the FAA. On a non-commercial flight the story would probably be different.

Pro Member First Officer
leadfoot First Officer

A nav/com radio is an indespesible backup for flying IFR should you have an electrical failure while in IMC. This considered a serious emergency by the FAA, and can have lethal consequences if not dealt with promptly. The nav/com can easily reach an ATC center for declaring an emergency. That being said, if a nav/com can reach an airport control tower, it can certainly interfere with an airliners radio, especially when you are inside that airliner. The chances of hitting that talk button is not worth risking the safety of a commercial flight.


I asked two pilots yesterday if a nav/com would be prohibited by a passenger on a commercial flight. Both said they saw no problem with it. Just to use ear buds so it didn't disturb other passengers. One even offered to give me the frequencies they would be using to depart ORD. Of course they knew I was a pilot and my knowledge of the subject made it obvious. From now on when I fly commercial I'm taking it and foreflight on my ipad. Way more entertaining and educational than the movie....

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